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‘That’s why we’re trying to protect everybody’

These are the COVID numbers Donna Talerico doesn’t mind passing along.

More than 1,250 employees of Monongalia County schools have been fully vaccinated to date in clinics hosted by the district, the deputy superintendent told Board of Education members Tuesday night.

The rolls of people who have rolled up their sleeves include teachers and teacher-aides, she said.

And coaches and custodians.

“That’s anywhere from 75% to 78% of our employees, and that’s just through our clinics,” she said.

“It’s probably higher than that, since others have gone elsewhere for the shot.”

The BOE went elsewhere for its regular meeting Tuesday, choosing South Middle School for its large auditorium for social distancing.

That was in anticipation of people coming to address the board during the public comment section of the proceedings.

Two people did. They asked the board and the district to better notify parents whose children may have been exposed to a classmate with COVID.

Talerico, meanwhile, said the district is doing just that – while to continuing to champion the pandemic protocols of mask-wearing, social distancing and handwashing to knock down possible chances of infectious contact.

At South, that was evident just down the hall of the school auditorium, where the cafeteria was set up with distanced, round tables with two seats apiece, similar to a fast-food restaurant.

Even so, COVID is still a presence in every school across the district.

Last week, 55 students and 16 staffers in Mon schools tested positive.

Another 356 students are currently in quarantine, to go with 20 employees of the school system.

In the meantime, Talerico said, the district is laying in another 21,000 disposable face masks, which will be available at schools for students.

That’s to quell those situations where a band snaps on one or another gets dropped on a restroom floor.

“We know what works,” Talerico said. “We know masks work. We know we won’t be able to eliminate COVID from Monongalia County schools – but we also know we can manage it.”

Kathryn Moffett and Martin Weisse, who are both WVU Medicine pediatric infectious disease specialists, were also at the meeting to tell the school board what masks don’t do.

No, the physicians said, masks don’t impair lung function or cause wearers to harbor carbon dioxide.

Nor do masks lower immunity or increase the likelihood of tonsillitis.

Weisse said vaccines are paramount for youngsters with pre-existing conditions.

Those are the ones, he said, who are especially vulnerable, since there still isn’t a vaccine for children under 12.

That’s why, he said, that people who can take the shot – should.

“The kids who are immune-compromised don’t have a big, red sign flashing around them,” he said.

“That’s why we’re trying to protect everybody.”

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